Climate change, or its scarier rhetorical stand in, global warming, has been a big deal for a while now. Finally, with the recent Paris Climate Agreement, it appeared as though the concept would be accepted without opposition, however, there are still moves being taken to prevent actions that would begin to combat the situation. As great as it would be to instantly transition to a completely green way of living, it is a bit more complicated than that. Below are just a few reasons why addressing global climate change has not be a breezy walk through the park but rather a sweaty push uphill in the Summer.
First off, there is money tied up in fossil fuels, and most are not willing to withdraw all their assets in oil to take a swing at renewable resources. You can see this happening with the North Dakota pipeline. Although it seems to be unanimous that building the pipeline would harm the people and environment surrounding the pipeline, it continues to be pushed forward. There is not only an issue with personal greed as far as investing in fossil fuels or combating environmental legislation goes, but there is also a problem more deeply embedded. Let’s say that if we were to abandon oil for renewable resources all at once, then there would be an enormous loss of jobs. With no structure in place to aid with this transition, workers at every level could end up jobless. That applies to the people drilling for oil, those who transport it, those who process it, those who sell it, those who employ those who sell it, those who are invested, in those who employ those who sell it…. and so on and so forth ad-nauseam.
2) There is no stopping climate change:
Right now, there is no immediate reversing climate change. There is only the option to adapt to the situations that will arise because of it and to try to reduce the effect that climate change may have in the future. This becomes an issue when people may not be able to see a way out of this unfortunate situation immediately. There is the possibility that anyone who could have an influence on environmental legislation could give up on it because they think that it will never be of use. While adapting to climate change may seem like a gentler way to go about combating it there are still some issues with that in and of itself. The dependency we have on resources that accelerate climate change leads to difficulty in weaning ourselves off it. Entire levels of infrastructure could have to be revised in some cases. For example, if there is a city with low levels of public transportation (one feasible way to reduce environmental impact), and there becomes legislation that levies a punishment on cities that do not meet a standard of public transport availability, then the city is left with an incentive to revamp their transportation infrastructure. This could be seen as a step in the right direction, which it may very well be, but it also places a financial burden on the city. The money must come from somewhere and there will no doubt be opposition towards public spending.
3) Western Culture:
The United States, and what is labeled the “West” in general, has a culture centered around instant gratification. When people want something, they want it now. Suppliers, of course, will strive to feed this instant demand with instant supply. Now if someone were to tell the American populace that they could not eat as much beef because keeping livestock is one of the most environmentally degrading forms of food production, then they would upset. People are so used to a standard of selection whenever they want it that if it were restricted it would cause an outrage. Imagine if a popular coffee-shop were to stop selling coffee during certain times of the day because coffee is particularly degrading on the environment and they wanted to reduce their impact. How well do you think this would go over? This is something that extends past one’s personal sense of entitlement to the access of certain goods. Because this is the way that America is structured to operate, if there were a sudden stop to this way of consuming, then the repercussions would be catastrophic.
This article is not meant to put down the idea of addressing climate change. This is simply meant as encouragement to think about this issue holistically. There is no easy solution to this problem; it will take the demanding work and effort of brilliant thinkers, workers, and everyday consumers and constituents to find a way to fight climate change in as seamless a way possible. Climate change is an issue of incredible importance, and every effort should be made to understand the situation and address it appropriately. The factors listed above and more are intrinsically linked with one another. You would be hard pressed to solve one aspect that contributes to climate change without running into another. As challenging as this is going to be, we must not allow for intimidation to make our hands idle.